Norwegian pipeline gas exports to continental Europe and the UK fell below the top of the five-year range for the first time in eight months in September, as heavy maintenance impacted flows, an analysis of data from S&P Global Commodity Insights showed Oct. 4.
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Norwegian gas deliveries totaled 7.99 Bcm in September, down by 3.5% year on year and by 16% compared with August, as a number of key assets on the Norwegian Continental Shelf underwent planned maintenance work.
The relatively heavy maintenance schedule saw work at the Troll, Oseberg and Kristin gas fields, while unplanned outages also impacted a number of other assets including the Sleipner, Skarv and Kvitebjorn fields.
Flows averaged just 267 million cu m/d during September, but rose back close to 350 million cu m/d in the first days of October upon completion of much of the planned maintenance work.
Norway has pledged to do as much as it can to boost gas deliveries to Europe to help mitigate the crisis caused by much lower Russian supplies.
Producers have also been incentivized to maximize exports with European gas prices at sustained highs.
Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the Dutch TTF month-ahead price at an all-time high of Eur319.98/MWh Aug. 26. It was last assessed at Eur168.50/MWh on Oct. 3, still 84% higher year on year.
Norwegian pipeline gas exports in the first nine months of 2022 totaled 84 Bcm, up by almost 6 Bcm year on year, and Norway is now Europe's single biggest gas supplier.
On Sept. 15, Norway's Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, said he recognized that Norway had a "big responsibility" to Europe as its largest gas supplier and was open to the idea of more long-term gas supply contracts with European buyers.
Støre was speaking after meeting with officials from Norway's biggest producers Equinor, Aker BP and Var Energi to discuss the European energy crisis.
The planned meeting came after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sept. 14 said she had agreed with Støre to set up a joint task force with Oslo as Brussels looks at measures to bring down gas costs.
"Norway is Europe's most important supplier of gas -- it is a big responsibility for both companies and authorities," Støre said.
Støre said, however, that the government had no plans to force producers to agree long-term sales deals with European buyers. "It is those who sell and those who buy who must be at the center of it," Støre said.
Nonetheless, given that energy had "strong political links," it was important for the state to be involved in some capacity. "And if there are roles that the state can have to contribute to that, Norway will not close the door to that," he said.
Norway has also increased security around its offshore installations following the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines late last month.
"Although we have no indication that there are any direct threats directed against Norway in particular, the government has tightened its preparedness since the war started both on the military and civilian sides with a wide range of measures," Støre said Oct. 1.
"Safety on the Norwegian Continental Shelf has also been strengthened," he said.